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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

xii                                      PREFACE

crucible of the poet's mind and perceptions. The maximum span of
human life was only "36,000 days", but that was long enough; if his
search for the elixir of immortality was in-vain, still every moment of
life was good while it lasted. His body might die, but his spirit in the
next incarnation might become a star in heaven, or a river on earth, to
shine, to nourish, and to sustain all living. Of this living, he was only
a particle in a temporary manifestation of the eternal, and it really did
not matter very much which particle he happened to be. So life was
after all eternal and good, and he enjoyed it. That was part of the secret
of the gay genius.

I have not burdened the text with footnotes, but have taken care to
make only statements which can be backed by sources, and have as
far as possible used the original words, though this may not be apparent.
As all the sources are in Chinese, footnote references would be of no
practical value to the great majority of readers. A general statement of
the sources will be found in the Bibliographical Appendix. To prevent
readers from floundering in Chinse names, I have eliminated those of
the less important persons, or sometimes indicated only their family
names. It is necessary also to refer to a person consistently by one name
only, where a Chinese scholar had four or five. In spelling Chinese
names, I have abolished the atrocious "hs" and substituted "sh", because
this is the only sensible thing to do. Some of the poems I have trans-
lated into English verse, and some I have had to para?phrase into prose
on account of the literary allusions which would make the translation
grotesque and unpoetic, and the meaning obscure without lengthy
comments.

LIN YUTANG